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Female Soldier Sues To Stay With Daughter

March 15, 1989

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) _ A soldier is suing to keep the Army from sending her to South Korea and separating her from her infant daughter.

″Having a child was one of the most important decisions I have made,″ Spec. 4 Cheryl Beekman of Newport News said in the lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court. ″I did not give birth to her so I could have someone else raise her.″

Unless a judge blocks the transfer, Ms. Beekman must report to South Korea on March 23 and find someone to care for her 6-month-old daughter, Lauren.

Ms. Beekman’s husband, Chris, left Virginia in October to take a job in Tacoma, Wash., where the family hopes to settle. She moved in with a friend.

Ms. Beekman said in the lawsuit that she recognized soon after her daughter’s birth that she would have a hard time balancing motherhood and life as a soldier.

Col. David A. Whaley, Ms. Beekman’s group commander, overruled recommendation s from her superiors and an Army chaplain that she be discharged, saying in a letter that a soldier should anticipate moves and long deployments.

No hearing on Ms. Beekman’s case has been set.

″Obviously, she’s not going to refuse to go if they deny this,″ said her attorney, Kenneth E. Labowitz.

Ms. Beekman, 21, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Whaley did not return calls to his office.

Ms. Beekman enlisted 2 1/2 years ago and has been working at Fort Eustis as a graphics illustrator.

During her pregnancy, Army officials asked whether she wanted a discharge. Under military law, she had a right to one if she wanted it at that time, Labowitz said. But Ms. Beekman decided to try to raise her daughter and finish her stint in the service.

Labowitz said his client, who has 1 1/2 years left to serve, ″didn’t know what she was getting into.″

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